Role of soil microbes in sustainable crop production and soil health: A review

K.K. Shah1*, S. Tripathi2, I. Tiwari2, J. Shrestha3, B. Modi4, N. Paudel5,6, B.D. Das7

1Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Gokuleshwor College, Tribhuvan University, Nepal
2Himalayan College of Agricultural Science and Technology, Purbanchal University, Kathmandu, Nepal
3Nepal Agricultural Research Council, National Plant Breeding and Genetics Research Centre, Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Nepal
4Central Department of Chemistry, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal
5National Institute of Horticultural and Herbal Science, Rural Development Administration, 55365 Wanju, Republic of Korea
6Department of Applied Plant Science, Kangwon National University, 24341 Chuncheon, Republic of Korea
7Department of Botany, Mahendra Morang Adarsh Multiple Campus, Biratnagar, Tribhuvan University, Nepal

(Manuscript received 12 August 2020; accepted for publication 29 March 2021)

Abstract. Global food production needs to be increased in order to feed the world’s growing population and at the same time, the reliance on inorganic fertilizers and pesticides should be minimized. To accomplish this goal, the various beneficial associations between plants and soil microorganisms should be explored. The soil microbes are bacteria, actinomycetes, viruses, fungi, nematode, and protozoa. They have an important soil function that has fulfilled several useful tasks in the soil system. Microbes support biological nitrogen fixation of different biological transformations that support the accumulation and utilization of key nutrients, support root and shoot growth processes, disease control, and improve soil quality in crop cultivation. Soil microbes offer nutrient-dense nourishment improved crop production and recycle soil solutions. They play an essential role in decomposing organic matter, cycling nutrients, and fertilizing the soil. Besides, they improve plant growth on various physiological parameters of plants by a number of mechanisms. The mechanism involved in growth promotion includes plant growth regulators, production of different metabolites, and conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia in direct and indirect ways. In addition, soil microbes offer resistance against diseases. This review outlines the significant impact of soil microbes on sustainable agricultural growth, the benefits of microbes in maintaining soil health, and their interactions.